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How to Shovel Snow Safely

January 26, 2017

shoveling snow.jpgYou wake up, throw back the curtains and see it: A fresh, fluffy blanket of snow. You lace up your boots, zip your coat, grab your shovel and head outside to clear the driveway and walkway.

Whether you’re shoveling a run-of-the-mill snowfall or clearing several inches due to a snowstorm, shoveling incorrectly can result in injury or even death. In fact, thousands of people end up in the emergency room each year as a result of snow shoveling.

That’s because the cold temperatures coupled with the vigorous activity of shoveling decreases blood supply to your vital organs, which can result in injury, heart attack or even stroke.

Before you head out, here is how to shovel snow safely.

Don’t drink alcohol or eat a heavy meal:

Just as you wouldn’t drink alcohol or eat a large meal before going for a run, don’t enjoy them before heading out to shovel. Alcohol can make it difficult to tell how much strain you’re putting on yourself, and digesting a heavy meal can strain your heart.

Take breaks:

Shovel in spurts rather than trying to clear everything at once. If you’re shoveling during a storm, start your efforts early rather than waiting until the storm ends.

Push the snow:

Rather than scooping up the snow and dumping to the side, doctors recommend pushing the snow instead. If you’re unable to push the snow and have to lift and dump it, remember to keep your feet hip-width apart and your back straight. Try not to twist your back when dumping the snow.

Keep these additional tips in mind:

  • Don’t eat or smoke while shoveling
  • Lift with your legs, not back
  • Stretch before you begin
  • If you have a history of heart disease, check with your doctor before you shovel
  • If you experience chest pain, tightness or dizziness stop immediately

Using a snow blower comes with its own risks. If you’re using a blower instead of a shovel, follow these safety tips:

  • Keep your hands and loose clothing away from moving parts
  • If the blower jams, turn it off
  • Don’t run the blower in an enclosed space
  • Don’t refuel your snow blower when it is on

It’s that time of year again – flu season! The flu virus is highly contagious and can lead to more serious ailments like pneumonia. Get prevention tactics to fight the flu and stay healthy this season.